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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: June ::
Hamlet's Ghost
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.1193  Friday, 4 June 2004

[1]     From:   John Briggs <
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        Date:   Thursday, 3 Jun 2004 12:57:34 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1188 Hamlet's Ghost

[2]     From:   Claude Caspar <
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        Date:   Thursday, 3 Jun 2004 09:20:50 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1188 Hamlet's Ghost

[3]     From:   Edmund Taft <
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        Date:   Thursday, 03 Jun 2004 11:19:22 -0400
        Subj:   Hamlet's Ghost

[4]     From:   Jack Heller <
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        Date:   Thursday, 3 Jun 2004 10:41:58 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1188 Hamlet's Ghost

[5]     From:   David Cohen <
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        Date:   Thursday, 3 Jun 2004 13:00:52 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1188 Hamlet's Ghost

[6]     From:   Peter Bridgman <
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        Date:   Thursday, 3 Jun 2004 19:16:43 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1188 Hamlet's Ghost

[7]     From:   Norman Hinton <
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        Date:   Friday, 04 Jun 2004 11:26:44 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1188 Hamlet's Ghost


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Briggs <
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Date:           Thursday, 3 Jun 2004 12:57:34 +0100
Subject: 15.1188 Hamlet's Ghost
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1188 Hamlet's Ghost

David Cohen wrote:

 >Is it the case that at the time Shakespeare was writing, the Church of
 >England had dispensed with Purgatory"?

That's an easy one:

"Article XXII:  Of Purgatory
The Romish Doctrine concerning Purgatory, Pardons, Worshipping, and
Adoration as well of Images as of Reliques, and also invocation of
Saints, is a fond thing vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty
of Scripture, but rather repugnant to the Word of God."

The 39 Articles were drawn up in 1563 (based on Cranmer's 42 Articles)
and Clergymen were required to subscribe to them by a 1571 Act of
Parliament.  They don't seem to have been included in the Prayer Book
until 1662.

John Briggs

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Claude Caspar <
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Date:           Thursday, 3 Jun 2004 09:20:50 -0400
Subject: 15.1188 Hamlet's Ghost
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1188 Hamlet's Ghost

Claude Caspar writes:

 >>One thing seems true, at least un-refuted, that the ghost (whether real
 >>or imagined! or just ghostly) is the ONLY Catholic in the play...
 >
 >I disagree.

Below I cite from the earlier thread for what it's worth... I am no
theologian, and for a pagan to parse on who is what kind of Christian,
Catholic, or Protestant is something I have learned is a tricky issue,
even for believers and/or scholars.  The conclusion that the ghost of
Old hamlet is the ONLY Catholic in the play was the view of a scholar
that has seemed to gain some consensus. Needless to say, it is not held
universally, even by formidable scholars. I am sure your contrary view
is based upon a lifetime of study.  I am in no position to really judge,
I suppose, but I am convinced enough as a student of the issue to accept
it's implications, especially since it is consistent with other
understandings, & of Shakespeare in general.  Convince Greenblatt & I
will worship at your shrine.

Also see:

http://www.hamlethaven.com/ghost.html

http://shows.vtheatre.net/hamlet/ghost.html

http://www.firstthings.com/ftissues/ft0112/reviews/zaleski.html * (see
extract below)

[*The second part of Hamlet in Purgatory is itself an exercise in
discretio spiritum, testing the spirits that haunt Hamlet and several
other of Shakespeare's plays. Greenblatt finds evidence more than
sufficient to prove that Hamlet's father is a Catholic ghost, though
undeniably an ambiguous one, who in visiting his Protestant son appeals
for vengeance as well as for remembrance and suffrage. Thus "the space
of Purgatory becomes the space of the stage where old Hamlet's Ghost is
doomed for a certain term to walk the night."]
See this [old] thread for many views:

From:           Claude Caspar <
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Date:           Thursday, 17 Oct 2002 12:34:48 -0400
Subject: 13.2092 Re: Haunted by the Ghost in Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.2092 Re: Haunted by the Ghost in Hamlet

 >The issue that I previously referred to is that Old Hamlet seems to be
 >the only Catholic in the play because he implies the reality of
 >Purgatory.

 >He doesn't say it because he's Roman Catholic, he says it because he's
 >been there and he knows.

Well, he wouldn't be there if he wasn't, in life, a practicing Catholic.
Non-believers could not gain access.  A sinner who went to Hell would
still "know" Heaven exists though he never went there, if he was a
believer in the faith.  What makes this word-play worthwhile, and it is
admittedly amusing & paradoxical to those of us who have no dog in the
hunt, is that the audience was composed partly of Catholics who could no
longer practice openly or had given up their belief one way or another.
  More interestingly for the underlying meanings, the recent scholarship
on Shakespeare's Catholic associations makes every reference as
political as theological.  Just for starters, that his dad was a
"secret" Catholic.  As Bloom iterates Shakespeare knew personally
colleagues branded, flogged, tortured, disemboweled before being drawn &
quartered (Burgess has a riveting description of such a public
punishment) , disgraced, let alone murdered [Marlowe?], for openly
contradicting the Church of England, i.e., King, the powers that be.
That WS could get away with what he did, after all his thought is still
shocking to us moderns, is what makes Old Hamlet's reality important not
just to Hamlet, but to everyone in the theatre.  Imagine the emotions
that went through those seeing heresy on the stage...

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Edmund Taft <
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Date:           Thursday, 03 Jun 2004 11:19:22 -0400
Subject:        Hamlet's Ghost

Bruce Richman writes, ""Enter the ghost in his night gown" appears in
the first quarto edition of 1603. . . ." Bruce is right. I inadvertently
typed F1 for Q1. Sorry.

Ed Taft

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jack Heller <
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Date:           Thursday, 3 Jun 2004 10:41:58 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 15.1188 Hamlet's Ghost
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1188 Hamlet's Ghost

 >I wonder if we have any firm idea regarding
 >how many Renaissance English per hundred believed in ghosts. I think
 >it's intuitive to believe that most of them did, but many times the
 >counter intuitive answer is correct. Has anyone done the leg work, or
 >are we guessing? Of course, as Don suggests, it would be difficult to
 >get an accurate assessment -- but some bright young (or even old)
 >scholar may figure out a method.
 >
 >Bill Godshalk

Keith Thomas's Religion and the Decline of Magic may be a place to
start.  It needs an updating, but it certainly gives plenty about 16th
and 17th century ghost beliefs.

Jack Heller
Huntington College

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Cohen <
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Date:           Thursday, 3 Jun 2004 13:00:52 -0500
Subject: 15.1188 Hamlet's Ghost
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1188 Hamlet's Ghost

Peter Bridgman <
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 > writes,

 >. . . It is often assumed that Hamlet (who alone in the play utters the
 >Catholic oath "By'r lady") must be a Protestant because he studied at
 >Wittenberg.  It is unlikely however that WS knew anything about Martin

Luther other than the fact he was German . . . .

Does it matter to this point that Hamlet takes place in the 11th
century, while the University of Wittenberg wasn't established until
1502, when Martin Luther was only 19 years old?

David Cohen

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Peter Bridgman <
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 >
Date:           Thursday, 3 Jun 2004 19:16:43 +0100
Subject: 15.1188 Hamlet's Ghost
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1188 Hamlet's Ghost

 >One thing seems true, at least un-refuted, that the ghost (whether real
 >or imagined! or just ghostly) is the ONLY Catholic in the play...

And I forgot to mention Horatio's epitaph on the dead Hamlet:

"HORATIO    And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest."

As pointed out by Arden Hamlet editor Harold Jenkins, the only logical
inspiration has to be "the antiphon of the old Latin burial service 'In
paradisum deducant te angeli ... Chorus angelorum te suscipiat ...
aeternam habeus requiem' "  (may the angels waft you to paradise ...
chorus of angels sustain you ...and grant you eternal rest).

Peter Bridgman

[7]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Norman Hinton <
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 >
Date:           Friday, 04 Jun 2004 11:26:44 -0500
Subject: 15.1188 Hamlet's Ghost
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1188 Hamlet's Ghost

 From the Anglican Church's Thirty-Nine Articles, dated 1571:

Article XXII

Of Purgatory

The Romish doctrine concerning Purgatory, Pardons, worshipping and
adoration as well of Images as of Relics, and also Invocation of Saint,
is a fond thing vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of
Scripture; but rather repugnant to the word of God.

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